Federal, State Violations Possible in ‘Dumping’ Case
The Los Angeles City Attorney's office is investigating whether Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center violated state or federal law when a hospital ambulance attempted to drop off a homeless patient on a gurney at a Los Angeles mission, the Los Angeles Times reports (DiMassa/Winton, Los Angeles Times, 2/13).
The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating the hospital for illegally dropping off a paraplegic homeless patient on a street in Skid Row after a failed attempt to take him to a mission (California Healthline, 2/12).
Jeffrey Isaacs -- head of the Los Angeles City Attorney's criminal and special litigation branch -- said the attempt to drop the man off at the mission violates federal law because the patient did not meet basic discharge standards.
Isaacs said, "This seems to be a transfer, not a discharge." He added, "Based on initial information, he was in no shape to give any authorization."
The federal government would have to determine whether the hospital violated the federal Emergency Medical Transfer and Active Labor Act. The hospital could face penalties under the law for releasing or transferring patients who are medically unstable, according to the Times.
The city attorney's office also could sue the hospital for violating a state law dealing with unfair business practices. Similar charges were filed last year against Kaiser Permanente in a patient dumping case.
Hospital spokesperson Dan Springer said the hospital is conducting an internal investigation into the incident and is conducting further training for staff and discharge personnel regarding homeless patients (Los Angeles Times, 2/13).